Climbing Kilimanjaro…

By Michelle Madina Sow-Jeanty

Anybody who once did some hiking knows how difficult it is to climb a mountain but also how rewarding it can be. I had the pleasure to experience it and today I want to talk about climbing the mountain I believe we should all climb first…

I am not a mountain girl but since I was a child, I was fascinated by Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest mountain in Africa. The Uhuru Peak culminates at 5,891.8 m and is covered in snow. The mere fact of snow in Africa was something amazing to imagine, little did I know that in some countries like Lesotho there is snow in Africa.

Mount Kilimanjaro hike is at least 5 days long. You don’t really need to be a hiking champion to climb the Kilimanjaro but you need to be able to cope with the altitude.

When I moved to Tanzania, climbing the Kilimanjaro was not on my bucket list but seeing it was. It felt amazing to see that mountain but I still couldn’t get myself to climb it. Some of my friends were doing the trip before moving out of the country and I found them very brave to do so.

Then, one day, I was at a corporate dinner and met a very charismatic man who told me that one sentence: “Climb the mountain”. Yes, we were talking about Kilimanjaro and the fact that he climbed it in his 60’s but I knew this meant more. “Climb the mountain” is something that still resonates.

“Climb the mountain” is the best metaphor I still use for conquer yourself.

Climbing the corporate mountain is what I did for a long time, making my way up on the ladder. I knew exactly the amount of work I needed to put in, I knew exactly the position I wanted next and I directed my whole person toward those corporate goals. This resulted in a lot of efforts and limited satisfaction.

Climbing a mountain is hard work.  What makes that hard work easier is the nature around you, it’s that colorful butterfly that you will come across, it’s that green grass you are walking on, it’s that pine forest covered in white snow…Climbing the mountain is as much about appreciating your hike than reaching the top!

Climbing my mountain is what I started to do when I decided to conquer myself. In my opinion, this is the first mountain we should climb as young adults and before starting climbing other mountains. Indeed, conquering yourself request knowing yourself, knowing your purpose and knowing your fears.

It is important to learn to know yourself, your purpose, your talents your fears before you start climbing mountains and find yourself at the top still not knowing why you made all those efforts. Yes, climbing a mountain is always hard work but knowing your purpose, you will know exactly what the top means to you.

I came to realize that one simple fact: most people tell you climbing a mountain is hard but few people tell you that you should climb the mountain with purpose and that on your way up you shouldn’t forget to enjoy the small things. When it comes to climbing a mountain “slow and steady wins the race”.

Start to climb your mountain, feel tired, allow yourself the feeling that you want to quit but keep going…Keep going and reach the top of the mountain.

“I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”, Nelson Mandela

You finally see that little spark of light, the top of the mountain. It feels like the top of the world. You can enjoy the view, you can breathe, you have never been that alive!

Reaching the top of the mountain is the most rewarding feeling. It is a moment of complete success, especially success over yourself. You made it to the top, you want to laugh and maybe cry at the same time, you did it!

Climbing the mountain is what we all do from the time we arrive on Earth. We climb our first mountains from childhood: learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to write… We climb and climb and climb …and sometimes we forget why we are climbing.

Success has a personal meaning for each and everyone of us. I have seen a picture recently of children getting a medal for some competition. While the child who arrive number one was looking at the camera without even a smile, the number three children’s joy was contagious. Success is what we say it is and this is why, as soon as we can, we should try to conquer ourselves.

Conquering ourselves is one top, but in our life, we can and we will luckily experience a lot of top. Enjoy those moments, there are precious. Hold those memories dearly, you can always get back to them.

For today, join me in asking yourself: why did I climb that mountain? The mountains you still need to climb are probably the ones that will give you the most rewarding feeling.

Climb the mountain and conquer yourself! Happy New Year and welcome to 2023!!!


Michelle Madina Sow-Jeanty aka Mika El Medine Sow is a pan-Africanist. Born and raised in Abidjan to a Malian mother and a mixed race Haitian father, she has travelled through 5 continents, 40 countries, 272 cities and more. She is the founder of Connecting Africa & Diaspora LLC. This article was first published on her blog SMILE P.O.P.

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